Friday, May 15, 2015

Chill with a Book!: International kudos for BackTracker series

Chill with a Book!: International kudos for BackTracker series: International kudos for BackTracker series   Author, Eileen Schuh I delight in hearing from my readers! The international appeal ...

Eileen Schuh,Canadian

Thursday, May 14, 2015

She hears voices...

She hears voices...

"I listen to many, many voices when I’m editing..." ~ Elaine Denning, Freelance Editor

Editing: It's not an easy task and is often a thankless one. 

Whether hired by an author or a publisher, a good editor works hard to incorporate the author's voice, publisher's mandate, grammar rules and readers' needs into a book that reads well and sells well.

Freelance editor, Elaine Denning, was kind enough to share some background secrets about  that tough life. Thanks, Elaine!

Elaine Denning - Freelance Editor
Is editing a viable business? Explain some of what you have done to establish and sustain your editing services business.
It’s certainly viable, but if the idea of having a fluctuating income fills you with dread then perhaps working in-house (with a regular salary), rather than freelancing, would be a better choice. 

When my business was in the early stages and I had just a handful of clients, editing took up about 25% of my time. The rest was spent slogging away as a freelance copywriter (in order to pay the bills) and marketing my editing business. There were many sleepless nights and Twitter and Facebook were a godsend - sites where I could try to get my name out there without any financial outlay.

My most effective marketing strategy was to offer authors a free ten page edit of their manuscripts. That’s when things really started to take off and within a few months I was able to give up copywriting and edit full time. These days, word of mouth brings in the majority of my clients and, of course, I have many returning clients, too.

Can you speak a bit about preserving the voice of an author while editing?
It’s a crucial part of the job; authors don't want to get their manuscripts back from the editor and not recognise it as their own work.  Authors’ voices are so strong that if I were sent a manuscript anonymously from someone I had previously worked with, I’m confident I could tell you who wrote it.

The first thing I always do is read a manuscript right through to the end before I edit a single word, to give me a feel for the author’s rhythm and style. Some authors write long, detailed, and complicated sentences and love, really love, using lots of punctuation and, on occasion, it can become a little, shall we say, tedious, to say the least. Other authors write short sentences. Snappy sentences. They get to the point. Quickly.  Even if I had a preference it would be wrong of me to change what is intrinsically their ‘voice’, their trademark. Therefore, if the structure of a sentence or a paragraph needs editing I will always mimic the author’s voice, even if I’m not fond of their particular style of writing. After all, there’s a huge difference between what is grammatically incorrect and what is just not to my liking.

Sometimes the author’s voice will slip into a character’s voice, or a character will say something that I know he or she would never say. So, in a nutshell, I listen to many, many voices when I’m editing and my aim is to stay true to them all.

Comment on why some ‘rules’ of writing (*shouldn’t* *don’t* *never*) seem to attain extreme notoriety for a while and then fade away (such as the uproars over the cursed Oxford comma, the alienated adverb, the prohibited prologue, the forbidden first-person…). What is your suggestion on how authors should treat such writing ‘rules’ and fads?
Nice alliteration! (Thanks! lol!)

There is always somebody, somewhere on the internet, writing about something to stir up a debate. It keeps the cogs turning and keeps us clicking, sharing, and arguing. Most blog writers strive for traffic on their sites and there’s no better way of attaining it than by writing about something controversial.

 As is the case with most arguments, they gain momentum, get rather heated, and then fizzle out. But let’s face it, if these so called ‘rules’ were set in stone they wouldn’t be up for debate in the first place.

I’d suggest that you use your creative license and write in a way that feels right for you. Bear in mind that most editors are pedantic and may well put a red strike right through your much-loved adverb or insert your missing Oxford comma, but I’d urge you to challenge their ‘correction’ if you’re not happy with it.  Any editor worth their salt would welcome your feedback and would be more than happy to explain why something has been altered. In my opinion, editors should always advise and never dictate.

What has been your most devastating editing experience?
I’d completed a free ten page edit of an author’s manuscript and we mutually decided to work together. But, about a quarter of the way through the book, it became apparent that incest, abuse, and the worst kind of humiliation were being written about under the guise of ‘erotica’.  Let’s just say it didn’t sit too well with me and I felt unable to continue, which prompted an onslaught of online harassment from the author that lasted for about three months. Not the happiest of times! I’m glad to say that every other author I have worked with has been (absolutely) lovely.

If you were hired to edit a classic, which one would you want it to be and what would be the first thing you’d change?
I think I’d like to edit ‘Of Mice and Men’ and give Lennie a deep aversion to stroking things.

On a serious note, I have mixed feelings about reworking classics. Yes, I understand that contemporary reinterpretations bring what would be an otherwise dusty, unread book to the attention of a modern day audience, but at what cost?  The joy I get from reading any book comes from plunging myself into the world the author has created. To tamper with the prose, the setting, and the era in which it was written (along with the fashions, language, and trends of that time) would leave nothing behind but a plot. It may be a good plot, but the author’s intent and the backbone of the book, in my mind, would be lost. So, if I were offered the chance to edit a classic I would feel deeply honoured but would recommend someone who would be far less inclined to get emotional at the deletion of some wonderfully written words and worlds.

Elaine Denning is an experienced freelance editor based in Devon, UK.  She edits fiction and non-fiction and works with both traditionally published and independent authors. 


Interview by:

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Smell of Rain

The Smell of Rain

“Small waves lapped softly against the lake shore a few metres beyond their feet…In the distance, coming easily and quickly across the openness of the lake, were the coyotes’ howls. One call at first followed by an answer. Then, a whole orchestra of wails, ending with a round of short, insistent yips.” ~excerpt from FIREWALLS by Eileen Schuh

I sometimes forget to incorporate all the senses in my writing. Perhaps because in real life I’m so dependent on sight. Or, maybe it is because there are many words to describe things we see and so few to describe things we taste, touch, smell and hear. 

It seems, however, that the more senses I incorporate in my writing, the easier it is to keep readers entrenched in my stories. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about sensory input in writing:

  • The sense of smell is closely connected to memory in the human brain and is therefore a powerful tool to use in writing 
  • Original phrasing, whether describing the common or the unique, is attractive to readers.
  • While paragraph after paragraph of description can be boring, and action interrupted by flowery language, annoying, powerful writers overcome those negatives by using sensory descriptions for more than just setting. They will use them to advance the plot, portray time transitions, foreshadow, provide backstory and even to develop characters. If readers are afraid they will miss out on something important if they don’t read your every word, you’ll have them ensconced from first page to last.
Katrina looked past the parking lot to the brilliant autumn colours. This used to be her favourite time of the year, with the fire of the foliage under the mellow glow of a sun riding low on the horizon, the honking of geese flying white against the azure sky. Hunting with Grandpa. Today, the autumn scents, colours and sounds were trapped in her head, unable to find their way to her heart. –THE TRAZ by Eileen Schuh
  •  Above all else, use sensory descriptions to elicit emotions in your reader. In fact, use anything you can to elicit emotions. Emotion is what will drive your story forward and keep your readers hanging onto every word.
 [Katrina] awoke to the screams of sirens leaving the detachment parking lot. As the cop cars wove off into the distance, a robin chirped. She searched for the bird in the weeping willow, but could not spot him. However, she noticed the stark difference between the yellow-gold of the leaves catching the sunshine and the deep green of the shaded boughs. Illusions. In reality, every healthy leaf on that tree was the same colour. ~FATALERROR by Eileen Schuh
Eileen Schuh, Author
Schrödinger's Cat


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Life beyond words...

It's been a few months since the doctor prescribed meditation for my migraines.'s that working for me?

My headaches are fewer and less severe, which could be the result of a new preventative medication. There are, however, those who would point out meditation is not solely about the soul. It can also bring about tangible positive life changes--such as finding that medication that works.

Meditation, I have discovered, is not easy. It's not easy to define and not easy to do. My doctor said I needed something a lot more intense than the 'meditation' I did with yoga. Apparently, concentrating on inhaling and exhaling and reciting, 'the light in me salutes the light in you. Namaste," is not sufficient to bring peace and health.

The spot where I meditate
Many believe to meditate one must 'silence one's thoughts'. (It is very, very difficult to not think.) Then, there are those who promote 'mindfulness' meditation, where one direct one's thoughts away from the past and future and corrals them in the present. Some people 'watch' their thoughts.

Some say one can only think of one thing at a time so directing one's thoughts to one's breathing paves the way to successful meditation.

What works for me is rather than trying to silence my thoughts, I silence my words. That is, I try to think, feel, and experience without words. Words define things, thus separating them. Without words, I can merge all parts of my being and unite with environment.

When I sit beneath that pine tree, my breathing melds with the sound of the breeze. I become one with the sun on my face and the grass beneath me. I put no name to the rustling leaves, the honking geese or the droning plane. I accept all I hear, smell, touch and see--experiencing them just as they are.

I direct myself back to that time long ago before I learned to speak, when I perceived my world as extension of myself, when I had no concept of the future or the past--when life was just a continuous 'now'.

I redefine myself. I transcend the confines of my body, beliefs and experiences.  I explore my existence beyond words and time. In those moments, I sense my power and my immortality.

We do not need words to think. In that way, meditation shares a commonality with music and art. All such endeavors take us beyond the usual definition of ourselves to a place where we connect with all that is, all that we are, that we were, that we will be. We connect with the universe, with others.

Dichotomies disappear. Religion and science, merge as do the soul and the body. You and I become one as do we and they. Time is no longer perceived as linear and thus life and death are understood as an infinite cycle.

Thinking without words and beyond time takes practice, but leads to a very peaceful place.

 * * *
LIFE BEYOND WORDS is brought to you by THE TRAZ. 

In THE TRAZ, young Katrina uses meditation to deal with the savage traumas life deals her.
 "Exciting, powerful, & tragic."

"The whole thing ends on a knife edge..."

“After reading THE TRAZ I came away wanting more!”

“The first of a series, igniting an appetite for the sequel”

Chill with a Book!: What's in a Name?

Chill with a Book!: What's in a Name?: From where in the universe do I get my characters' names? ...

Eileen Schuh,Canadian

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Criminal Minds at Work: Favourite literary legal scene

Criminal Minds at Work: Favourite literary legal scene: All of my novels contain some legal elements. The BackTracker series is chock-full of criminals and crime fighters and my latest release...

Find out what 'sure as hell' won't get Chorie legal custody of her dying daughter... SCHRODINGER'S CAT